There was a question on English SE about the name of horse-headed human (opposite of Centaur), I wrote Ipotane in an answer. When I searched up 'Ipotane' on Google, it gave me the following image:

enter image description here

There's also a Wikipedia article about Ipotane.

I wonder if it's correct and used in mythology.

Does anyone have any information about 'Ipotane'? Or should it be reverse-centaur?

(I hope it's not off-topic.)


I don't think it would be Hippotane: ιππότης (hippotes) in Ancient Greek just means "soldier" or something close to our word "knight".

If you want to derive from Greek, then Wikipedia suggests ιππότης λεώς (hippotes leous), but that literally means "horse people", so that's not exactly it either.

Some versions of the Perseus myth mention a horse-headed man, based on the cave-cult of the horse-headed Demeter, but gives this creature no specific name:

enter image description here

I would suggest μεάλογον (mealogon). με άλογο means horse-headed, adding an "n" to rhyme with "gorgon", but this has no historical basis.

  • 1
    I just remembered there is a horse-headed deity in Hinduism: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayagriva – Codosaur May 6 '20 at 19:40
  • An "n" could be added, here I think in the accusative case. The root of the meaning of άλογο seems to be "without reason or speech" per the "a" prefix with "logos", to distinguish between human troops and the animals they rode. – DukeZhou Apr 20 at 20:34
  • Hayagriva could almost be a separate answer, since we are talking about an indo-european tradition, and some degree of contact between the cultures. – DukeZhou Apr 20 at 20:35

There's a race of dog-headed people known as Cynocephaly (or Kynokephali) which literally means dog-head. Akephaloi is also used to describe the Blemmey who has no head. It would probably make sense to call horse-headed people Hippocephali or Ippokephaloi or something like that.

"Reverse-Centaur" would be very incorrect. "Centaur" or "Kentavros" is not a native Greek word, it's possibly imported from the Hindu Kinnara, (or some Persian or Assyrian iteration of the concept) which is either horse-head-like or centaur-like depending on when and where the term is used. In modern Southeast Asia, Kinnara is centaurine, but a bird body instead of a horse body, and this version seems to have eclipsed the earlier horse version.

I assume Ipotane as a race and Hippotes as "knight" sound similar like if you were comparing the English terms "horseman" and "horse man". So even though it's confusing, it's probably not incorrect.

If it helps to understand the headspace of the ancient proto-Greeks and Mycenaeans, they did not ride horses themselves, their horses pulled wagons and chariots. Their first exposure to horse riding would have been to someone like the Scythian raiders, and possibly misunderstood stories of Scythians from their neighboring empires, confusing "horsemen" as "horse men" and used the foreign word "centaur" to describe them. The myths of wild and violent centaurs might reflect these horse-riding raiders.

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